Best places to exchange currency in Dubai

Adam Rozsa
11.05.22
4 minute read

If you're planning a holiday to Dubai, traveling for work purposes or relocating, knowing where to exchange your money to the city’s currency, Dirham (AED), is crucial. This guide will tell you everything you need to watch out for when exchanging your money in Dubai and the best places to visit.

Don't want to carry cash? With Wise, you can exchange over 50 currencies within minutes from your phone or laptop from anywhere, at any time.


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What you should know about exchanging money in Dubai

It's important to be informed before you exchange money in Dubai, or any foreign city, to help you avoid excessive charges and find the best deals. Although exchanging money is a popular choice for foreign visitors, you may also want to consider opening a bank account in Dubai if you're planning to stay there long term, or if you're making substantial investments such asbuying property or cars in the city.

1. Beware of ‘zero fee’ services

While you're abroad, you’ll more than likely come across services that claim to offer currency exchange for ‘zero fees’ or ‘no commission’. Unfortunately, this is too good to be true – these services still need to make a profit. They often give you a poor exchange rate that doesn’t reflect the real market rate, and pocket the difference.

The real rate is known as the mid-market rate, which is the exchange rate that banks and other financial institutions use to exchange currencies on the global market. If you search for the currency pair you’re using on Google, or use an online currency converter, you’ll likely discover that your money is worth much more than the exchange bureau or bank is offering you.

2. Familiarize yourself with the exchange rate beforehand

Now that you know exchange services don’t usually offer customers the real mid-market rate, it’s worth checking the base rate before you go to exchange your money, so you can spot a bad deal1.

3. Avoid exchanging money in airports or hotels

Sadly, there’s a price to be paid for convenience, in this case. Airports and hotels are a popular choice for last-minute currency exchange, but they’re often the biggest culprits of offering poor rates and charging high transaction fees.

4. Check if your bank operates, or has partnerships with other banks, in Dubai

Similarly to when you’re at home, you can use ATMs in Dubai as an easy way to withdraw cash. However, before you do start using ATMs, check if your home bank has any partnerships with local banks in Dubai. If they do, then you might even be able to withdraw cash without paying extra ATM fees for the privilege. It’s also worth notifying your bank before you leave home that you’ll be using your card whilst overseas.

5. Choose to be charged in the local currency - AED (Dirham)

When using an ATM abroad you might be asked if you would like to be charged in your home currency. This is not a good idea, as it means your money will be converted at an undisclosed exchange rate and you’ll likely pay an extra fee for the conversion. For a fairer rate, choose to be charged in the local currency.

Hassle-free currency exchange with Wise

If you don’t want to use cash abroad, the Wise multi-currency account is a great alternative.

With a borderless account, you can convert and hold your money in more than 50 different currencies, and for some currencies you can even get your own virtual account details, which will allow you to receive payments from third parties. Because Wise uses the mid-market exchange rate, you’ll find that switching between currencies is both simple and cheap – we’ll only charge you a small fee on transactions, and we’ll disclose the fee upfront, so you won’t get any unwanted surprises.

Check out how to make your first transfer with Wise, and give it a try.

Where to exchange money in Dubai

For those that like to keep cash on hand, here are a few popular places to exchange money in Dubai – a lot of these services have branches inside the city’s popular malls. In Dubai you’ll probably find the best rates available if you're changing from U.S. Dollars. AED is pegged to the Dollar, so you’ll receive roughly the same rates (taking into account fees and charges) when exchanging Dollars to Dirhams.

To avoid scams and paying excessive fees, always double-check the mid-market rate before you exchange your money, and look at the terms of each service to see what you’ll be charged for.

1. Al Ansari Exchange

Al Ansari Exchange was established in 1966, and is one of the most well-known exchanges in Dubai. It has more than 70 branches across the United Arab Emirates¹.

BranchesTheir list of branches includes²:
  • Dubai Mall (3): Second floor (Aquarium side), Financial Center Street, Along Sheikh Zayed Road
  • Mall of the Emirates (1): Ground floor, Sheikh Zayed Road – Al Barsha – Al Barsha 1
  • Mall of the Emirates (2): TCK12- First level, Entrance 1, Sheikh Zayed Road - Al Barsha - Al Barsha 1
Opening hoursOpening hours vary depending on the branch – you can check here.
Contact information
  • Phone: 600 54 6000
  • Email: info@alansari.ae³

2. Al Fardan Exchange

If you're looking for an exchange service that's available in the main Dubai malls, Al Fardan Exchange is a good option. The Group has more than 15 branches, including Bur Dubai and Mall of the Emirates¹.

BranchesTheir list of branches includes⁴:
  • Dubai Festival City Centre: Level 2 (opposite Ikea), Crescent Drive
  • Nakheel Mall: LG Level, Center of Palm – Al Hilali – The Palm Jumeirah
  • Onyx Tower: Sheikh Zayed Road, beside Emaar Business Park, Abdullah Omran Taryam Street
Opening hoursOpening hours vary depending on the branch – you can check here.
Contact information
  • Phone: 600 52 2265
  • Email: customercare@alfardanexchange.com

3. Sharaf Exchange

As well as currency exchange, the Sharaf Exchange offers personal and corporate remittance services, and paycheck services to pay your workers’ wages. You can find one of its 15+ branches across the region3.

BranchesTheir list of branches includes⁶:
  • Al Qusais: Shop No - 6, New Obaidullah Building, Amman Street
  • Deira City Centre: TW27, Ground Floor, Deira City Centre, East Court
  • Jumeirah Beach Residence: Al Shams Building Shop No.G-03, The Walk at Jumeirah Beach Residence
Opening hoursOpening hours vary depending on the branch – you can check here.
Contact information
  • Phone: +971 4 355 4560
  • Email: info@sharafexchange.com

As you can see, there’s no shortage of options when it comes to exchanging money in Dubai. Don't forget to do your research on the exchange rate before converting your money, and check Wise out if you want a fuss-free alternative to exchanging cash.

Learn more about Wise


Sources used:
  1. https://www.visitdubai.com/en/articles/where-to-exchange-money-in-dubai
  2. https://dubaiofw.com/al-ansari-exchange-branches-uae/
  3. https://alansariexchange.com/contact-us/
  4. https://dubaiofw.com/al-fardan-exchange-branches-uae/
  5. https://alfardanexchange.com/contact
  6. https://dubaiofw.com/sharaf-exchange-branches-uae/
  7. https://www.sharafexchange.com/

All sources checked on 9 May 2022


This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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